Illegal truck moves a safety concern

The New Zealand Transport Agency and Dunedin City Council have had talks with Cadbury staff after being horrified to learn large trucks were sometimes driving against one-way traffic to enter the Dunedin factory yard.

Simon Underwood, from the NZTA, and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said they were confident their safety concerns would be addressed by the company after speaking to them last week.

The concerns stem from information gathered during consultation on improving safety at an intersection near the exit from the factory, including whether it should be permanently closed, following the death of a cyclist there in late 2011. The death was not related to a truck coming from or going to the Cadbury site.

After a question from Cr Jinty MacTavish, Mr Underwood told a council committee last week the way the intersection of Anzac Ave (SH88) and Castle St (SH1) was used by trucks entering and exiting the factory was a ''curious'' thing the NZTA learned during the consultation exercise.

Large trucks were crossing traffic to exit from the Cadbury yard into Anzac Ave and trucks were illegally turning right into Castle St from Anzac Ave in order to cross to enter the yard.

Council strategy and development general manager Dr Sue Bidrose told councillors the manoeuvres had been verified first-hand by two council staff members, one of whom saw a truck appear out of Anzac Ave in front of her and travel across, in a slight northerly direction on the south-bound lanes, to enter the yard, that morning.

Mr Underwood said the manoeuvre was obviously illegal.

''It's clearly against all the road rules what they are doing.''

Outraged that this was not raised in a report to councillors or with Cadbury immediately, Mr Cull proposed councillors vote to ask the NZTA to engineer changes at the intersection to prevent trucks from being able to make the manoeuvre.

''As it stands, the motion (an earlier motion taken to make temporary safety-related changes at the intersection permanent) is clearly not solving one of the problems, and seems to be exacerbating one of the problems by allowing for trucks to cross there.

''We close that issue off by blocking that off.''

Mr Underwood said he was not sure how the agency could design that manoeuvre out, or if it would want to.

After arguments from councillors, Mr Cull amended his proposed resolution to ask NZTA to investigate such changes, but that was voted down by councillors worried about potential effects on Cadbury's business.

Cr Lee Vandervis, a former truck driver, said things like this were likely to be happening across the city, as large trucks negotiated narrow entrances/exits to sites.

''If we imagine we can prevent illegal truck manoeuvres in the city, we will prevent a lot of business around the city from going on ... I would strongly suggest this is not a road you want to go down.''

He suggested other traffic management solutions for trucks entering and exiting the site be investigated instead.

Crs Andrew Noone and Kate Wilson also said they would rather see some discussions with Cadbury to find a suitable and safe compromise.

Councillors resolved in the end to ask the NZTA to have urgent discussions with Cadbury about the situation.

Mr Underwood said the agency talked to Cadbury last week, and was expecting a response from the company soon.

Mr Cull said he met the Cadbury site manager the day after the council meeting, and was satisfied the company shared the council's concerns about safety, and was taking the issue seriously.

''They want to be a good corporate citizen and we want to be the facilitators of their business, so clearly there's a win-win in that.''

A Cadbury spokesman did not return calls.

Dunedin road policing manager Senior Sergeant Phil McDouall said police had never received a complaint about truck movements in or out of the factory, but would be keeping an eye on it.

- debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz

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